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Why Netflix is ​​banking heavily on Poland – The Hollywood Reporter

When Netflix announced earlier this year that it had selected Poland as its new regional headquarters – the company’s new Warsaw office, due to open in late 2022, will serve as a hub for the streamer’s Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) operations – The choice seemed obvious.

Since Netflix began operations in Poland in 2016, the streamer has invested more than $110 million (PLN 490 million) in original series such as crime dramas The forest, student comedy sexify and popular genre fare, from the procedural era Operation Hyacinth and Nobody sleeps in the forest tonight – touted as the world’s “first Polish slasher film” – turned into a crime biopic How I fell in love with a gangster and sexy NSFW franchise 365 dayshis latest entry, 365 days: This day fell into service on April 27.

“Poland has become a key market for Netflix in the CEE region,” said Anna Nagler, the streamer’s director of local-language originals for CEE, claiming that the company’s production investments have created at least 2,600 jobs in the country. “With the growing volume of Polish original content, now is the right time to get even closer to our members and creative partners. The Netflix office in Warsaw is a natural next step to build new partnerships, deepen existing ones and create new opportunities for the Polish creative community.”

Netflix’s shares plummeted after the company lost about 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year, with the US seen as an increasingly competitive and maturing market for the company. That means international territories and local language production will become even more important to the global streamer’s growth plans.

“We plan to continue investing in both Polish productions and licensed titles,” wrote Larry Tanz, Netflix’s VP Series for EMEA, in a blog post. “Having a local office makes our presence in Poland and CEE even more visible.”

Late last year Netflix unveiled 18 new Polish film and TV projects ranging from Leszek Dawid’s mountaineering drama Wide tip and disaster film of the near future The Beehive from director Mateusz Rakowicz to horror titles hell hole out of Nobody sleeps in the forest Helmer Bartosz M. Kowalski.

With a population of around 40 million people and a GDP of US$674 billion last year, Poland is by far the largest and wealthiest country in CEE and has the region’s strongest film and television production industry by most standards. Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic are world leaders when it comes to catering to big-budget international productions, but none of the surrounding territories comes close to Poland when it comes to domestic content, both large and small Canvas.

Polish cinema is broad and deep, including mainstream blockbusters from directors like action king Patryk Vega (pit bull, Petla) and Maria Sadowska, whose Girls from Dubaia sex-and-crime tale about an ambitious girl who overwhelms herself as an expensive escort for Arab sheikhs was Poland’s top-grossing local language film of 2021, grossing more than $6 million in Poland.

Internationally, the country is best known for its authors, such as Jerzy Skolimowski, who is returning to the Cannes competition for the sixth time this year EO, a Polish-Italian production described as a donkey’s view of modern Europe, starring Sandra Drzymalska and Isabelle Huppert alongside a donkey. Agnieszka Smoczyńska, whose fugue won Critics’ Week Grand Prize in 2018 and returns to Cannes with her English-language debut silent twinsstarring Letitia Wright and Jodhi May, which will be screened in the festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

The prolific Małgorzata Szumowska, whose Never snow againa collaboration with longtime collaborator Michał Englert, which premiered in Venice in 2020, also switched to English for her latest survival drama endless storm, with Naomi Watts. Even Vega, the most commercially successful Polish director of the last decade, plans to break into English language feature films and announces his forthcoming feature film autobiography will be his last project in Polish. Despite its local success, Vega sees English as the only way to break into the global market and break into bigger-budget productions.

Many Polish producers agree that there can be limits to how big you can get in the country.

“In Poland there is rarely enough money to produce a historical film,” says Anna Wasniewska, head of the feature film team at TVN Discovery in Warsaw. “Movies set in the ’70s or ’80s, like [TVN’s upcoming] doppelganger by Jan Holoube or war dramas of the 1940s are not easy to make. Big-budget Polish historical dramas are rare.”

“The simplest films to shoot in Poland are those set in modern times, without elaborate sets, special effects or period costumes,” agrees Robert Kijak, CEO of Next Film.

While Kijak sees opportunities in new investments from companies like Netflix in Polish content – ​​“Polish films have been very well received by international audiences [and] Streaming companies have increased funding for local productions,” he notes — the capital inflow has also increased demand for talent.

“Production costs, the cost of film crews and talent have increased by about 30 percent,” says Wasniewska, “both because of inflation and the increase in films and series produced by streamers.”

A new Polish law requiring streaming services to give 1.5 percent of their local earnings to the Polish Film Institute (PFI), cash pooled and spent on future Polish projects should help local producers feel the hardship.

“The mandatory VoD contribution provides the PFI with solid funding, which was particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic when theatrical receipts dropped significantly,” says Dariusz Jablonski, CEO of Apple Film Production, one of Poland’s first indie production companies to law “mutually beneficial” for streamers and local producers.

The country’s 30 percent tax refund is also helping to lower producers’ budget lines – and encouraging more international shoots to come to Poland. First introduced in 2019, the rebate finally gives Poland a level playing field with its more tax-friendly Central European neighbors.

“Since its inception, the cash rebate has brought tens of millions of dollars to Poland that would otherwise not have been spent in Poland,” notes Apple Film’s Violetta Kaminska. “Poland [is now] high on the list of foreign producers and companies. Our last two production service jobs were on the Dutch series legacy and a German film. We are about to begin preparations for another big-budget production.”

Joanna Szymanska, Producer on Shipsboy (Operation Hyacinth), says she has used it for “all our productions, co-productions and services” since the discount went into effect, including the Germany-Luxembourg-Poland co-production Mission Ulya Funk, a family adventure film directed by German director Barbara Kronenberg, about a 12-year-old astronomy geek who travels across Eastern Europe to monitor an asteroid impact. “Thanks to the discount, we were able to convince the producers to make it a co-production and not a commissioned production. We hired a Polish crew and used Polish locations. The film premiered at the Berlinale 2021, so it was clearly a good decision.”

However, Szymanska notes that certain restrictions, including spending caps on co-productions taking advantage of the rebate and lengthy application and approval processes, make it more difficult for more productions to access the rebate in a timely manner and properly fund their films.

Regardless of the logistical issues, increasing investment in Polish content and growing appetite for Polish films and TV series on an international scale can only be good news for local producers and anyone looking to do business with them.

Netflix movies in pole position

Covering everything from crime thrillers to Christmas, Made in Poland films and series have achieved huge success on Netflix worldwide.

Furioza

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‘Furoza’
Mateusz Damiecki as Golden in Furioza. Kr. Courtesy of Netflix ©

Directed by Cyprian T. Olencki, the action thriller has racked up more than 40 million viewing hours in just two weeks since it was released on Netflix on April 4. The brutal drama about a man forced to infiltrate an organized crime group and betray his childhood friend was a top 10 non-English film title on Netflix in 74 countries.

Nobody sleeps in the forest tonight 2

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“No one sleeps in the woods tonight 2”
Courtesy of Netflix

The 2020 Polish slasher film sequel peaked at #3 on Netflix’s Global Top 10 Non-English Language Films List and charted in 31 countries. Director Bartosz M. Kowalski follows his leapfrogging bloodfest with the story of Adam, the first film’s sole survivor who, unsurprisingly, isn’t over the hill yet.

David and the elves

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“David and the Elves”
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s first Polish Christmas film – the story of an exhausted, overworked elf who escapes to the real world only to rediscover the season’s magic – was a global top 10 hit for Netflix for three consecutive weeks, earning top spots in Malta (#2) and Germany (#4).

The forest

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‘The forest’
Courtesy of Netflix

The second Polish Netflix original series based on Harlan Coben’s best-selling crime thrillers, this cold-case series about a Warsaw prosecutor who hopes to connect a new murder to his sister’s mysterious disappearance 25 years ago smashed the top -10 Netflix listings in about 40 countries including Brazil, France, Argentina and the UK

sexify

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‘sexify’
Courtesy of Netflix

A successful, sexually inexperienced tech student sets out to create a new sex app to win a university competition in this dramedy series that reached the top 10 in 80 countries and outside of Poland in Italy, India, Egypt and the Dominican Republic the number 1 occupied republic.

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